March 3, 2015

20,000 Vinyl LPs 35: I Can Hear It Now ~ David Ben-Gurion

cover photo by Leo Rossi & Martin Barnett
photo of album by Styrous® 


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I started the Vinyl LP series because I have a collection of over 20,000 vinyl record albums I am selling; each blog entry is about an album from my collection. Inquire for information here.   

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Well, it been the top news item today: the visit of Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, to the United States and the controversy it has generated. Netanyahu was invited behind the back of President Barack Obama by House Speaker John Boehner (pronounced: Boner!) to address a joint meeting of congress; a pretty cheezy move by the Republicans (so what else is new?).

Netanyahu denounced Obama's dealings with Iran. He said to the U. S. Congress, "This is a bad deal — a very bad deal," and continued, "We're better off without it." - Wall Street Journal.   


He is against a nuclear deal with Iran; he doesn’t want Iran to develop any nuclear power at all. He said in his address, “To win the war against ISIS and allow Iran to have nuclear power, would be to win the battle but lose the war.”

President Obama, Joe Biden and many Washington lawmakers didn't attend the meeting according to the Wall Street Journal (the list is astonishing). It's created an international embarrassment for the United States. 

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But enough, already, about shady politics, the whole incident snapped me back 60 years or so to the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, and the interview of him I have on a vinyl LP.

Israel National Photo Collection, item 69511, 
picture code D508-115 
Licensed under Public Domain via 
Wikimedia Commons

The Interview with Ben-Gurion by Edward R. Murrow was completed on Feb 3, 1956 at Sde Boker kibbutz as part of Murrow’s ‘I Can Hear It Now’ series.

The Interview was recorded on the Columbia Masterworks Label ML 5109, that featured the complete unabridged interview on the release. An edited version of the interview with Ben-Gurion appeared on CBS TV’s ‘See It Now’ on March 6, 1956.

This album is a companion to the Murrow interview of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the second President of Egypt,   (see link below) which is part of the ‘I Can Hear It Now’ series. 

 
vinyl LP back cover 
photos by Leo Rossi & Martin Barnett
photo of album by Styrous®


Ben-Gurion was pretty controversial in his time. He pushed for and got land that Palestinians had owned for centuries turned over to Israelis against the Palestinians will. The land was taken from them; this is a fact of history. Of course, what nation hasn't taken the land it has from someone else?


 
vinyl LP back cover detail 
photos by Leo Rossi & Martin Barnett
detail photo by Styrous®


As head of the Jewish Agency, and later president of the Jewish Agency Executive, he became the de facto leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, and largely led its struggle for an independent Jewish state in The British mandate of Palestine. On May 14, 1948, he formally proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, and was the first to sign the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which he had helped to write. Ben-Gurion led Israel during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and united the various Jewish militias into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Subsequently, he became known as "Israel's founding father".


 
vinyl LP back cover detail 
photos by Leo Rossi & Martin Barnett
detail photo by Styrous®
 
Ben-Gurion published two volumes setting out his views on relations between Zionists and the Arab world: We and Our Neighbors, published in 1931, and My Meetings with Arab Leaders published in 1967. To his credit, Ben-Gurion believed in the equal rights of Arabs who remained in and would become citizens of Israel. He was quoted as saying, "We must start working in Jaffa. Jaffa must employ Arab workers. And there is a question of their wages. I believe that they should receive the same wage as a Jewish worker. An Arab has also the right to be elected president of the state, should he be elected by all."

He believed that the sparsely populated and barren Negev desert offered a great opportunity for the Jews to settle in Palestine with minimal obstruction of the Arab population, and set a personal example by settling in kibbutz Sde Boker at the centre of the Negev. 

During the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine, Ben-Gurion instigated a policy of restraint ("Havlagah") in which the Haganah and other Jewish groups did not retaliate for Arab attacks against Jewish civilians, concentrating only on self-defense. In 1937, the Peel Commission recommended partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas and Ben-Gurion supported this policy. This led to conflict with Ze'ev Jabotinsky who opposed partition and as a result Jabotinsky's supporters split with the Haganah and abandoned Havlagah. 



‘I Can Hear It Now’ ~ David Ben-Gurion
vinyl LP back cover detail 
photos by Leo Rossi & Martin Barnett
detail photo by Styrous®


In 1955, Ben-Gurion assumed the post of Defense Minister and was re-elected prime minister. When he returned to government, Israeli forces began responding more aggressively to Egyptian-sponsored Palestinian guerilla attacks from Gaza—still under Egyptian rule. The growing cycle of violence led Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser (see link below) to build up his arms with the help of the Soviet Union. The Israelis responded by arming themselves with help from France. Nasser blocked the passage of Israeli ships through the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal. In July 1956, the United States and Britain withdrew their offer to fund the Aswan High Dam project on the Nile and a week later, Nasser ordered the nationalization of the French and British-controlled Suez Canal. Ben-Gurion collaborated with the British and French to plan the 1956 Sinai War in which Israel invaded and occupied Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, thus giving British and French forces a pretext to militarily intervene against Egypt in order to secure the Suez Canal. Intervention by the United States and the United Nations forced the British and French to back down and Israel to withdraw from Sinai in return for promises of free navigation through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. A UN force was stationed between Egypt and Israel.



photo by Styrous®

Ben-Gurion is said to have been "nearly obsessed" with Israel obtaining nuclear weapons, feeling that a nuclear arsenal was the only way to counter the Arabs' superiority in numbers, space, and financial resources, and that it was the only sure guarantee of Israel's survival and the prevention of another Holocaust.  

Ben-Gurion stepped down from office in 1963, and retired from political life in 1970. He then moved to Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev desert, where he lived until his death. On November 18, 1973, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died on December 1, 1970. 



vinyl LP label 
photo by Styrous®

Posthumously, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century. The Ben-Gurion House, where he lived from 1931 on, and for part of each year after 1953, is now a historic house museum in Tel Aviv.






The  David Ben-Gurion interview can be heard at The Jewish Link website  




Styrous® ~ Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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